Western, Valeska Grisebach, 111’, Bulgaria / Germany / Austria, ZDF 3.8.2020, OV with German subtitles

For Valeska Grisebach, the Western is doubly fascinating: as a cosy childhood memory in front of the television and as a female filmmaker’s idea to take on an inherently male genre. She cleverly combines this idea with an interest in “Germanness”, which goes hand in hand with a diffuse sense of strength and superiority. Her research takes her to the village of Petrelik in Bulgaria. There she assigns a group of German construction workers with the task of building a hydroelectric power plant. For two of the men, the village becomes the stage for their struggle to gain the villagers’ recognition. Grisebach, known for her documentary approach, says: “I find it very fruitful to confront a fictional narrative with reality again and again, as a sparring partner for the imagination, as a productive resistance to the fictional.”

Valeska Grisebach (*1968) is a German director whose work is attributed to the Berlin School and New Austrian Cinema. She made the feature films Longing (2007) and Western (2020) in cooperation with Das kleine Fernsehspiel. The films were screened in Berlin and Cannes and received several awards, including the German Film Critics’ Award and the German Film Award.